Alienation and Hybridity. Patterns of Estrangement in the British Novel since the 1950s



Alienation and Hybridity. Patterns of Estrangement in

the British Novels since the 1950s.


zur Erlangung eines Doktorgrades der Philosophie

im Fachbereich A

Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften

der Bergischen Universität Wuppertal

vorgelegt von

Remus Racolţa




Die Dissertation kann wie folgt zitiert werden: urn:nbn:de:hbz:468-20180711-092740-9



Table of Contents

1.Introduction ... 3

2. Alienation: Definition, Concept and Meanings ... 20

2.1. Etymological Background and Semantics ... 20

2.2. Philosophical Approaches ... 24

2.2.1. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: A Philosophical Precursor of Alienation Theories ... 24

2.2.2. Hegel’s Concept of Alienation ... 29

2.2.3. Marx’s Concept of Alienation ... 34

2.2.4. Fromm’s Concept of Alienation ... 41

3. Models of Alienation in Literary Studies ... 45

3.1. Alienation in Literary Dictionaries and Handbooks ... 45

3.2. The ‘Travelling’ of Alienation from Marxist Philosophy to Fiction ... 49

3.3. The Classical Alienation Model in Fiction ... 54

3.3.1. Alienation in British Postwar Fiction of the 1950s: Us versus Them ... 54

3.3.2. The Angry Decade: British Working-Class Fiction in the 1950s ... 59

3.3.3. The Alienated Working-Class Hero of the 1950s ... 65

3.4. The Multidimensional Model of Alienation ... 73

3.4.1. Alienation in Post-Industrial Fiction of the 1990s: North vs. South ... 73

3.4.2. Alienation and Hybridity Post-2000: The Space of the Impossible. ... 89

4. The Angry Young Men Movement (1950s): The Consciousness of Class ... 102

4.1. Alienation as Inward Migration – Keith Waterhouse’s Billy Liar (1959) ... 102

4.2. Permanent Alienation – Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night Sunday Morning (1958) 114 4.3. Alienation as (Un)Successful Embourgeoisement – John Braine’s Room at the Top (1957) ... 124



5. The Celtic Fringe (1990s): The Subordination of Class ... 134

5.1. “Nay Point in Hoping for the Best” – James Kelman’s How Late it Was, How Late (1994) ... 134

5.2. “Scotland Takes Drugs in Psychic Defense“ – Irvine Welsh’s Northern Scottish Hero(es) of the 1990s: Trainspotting (1993), Porno (2002) and Skagboys (2012) ... 143

5.3. The Angri(er) Young Man: The Northern Yob ... 154

6. Fictions of Migration (1980s-2000s): ‘Classless’ Hybridity ... 165

6.1. “Clowns in Search of Crowns”. Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988) .... 165

6.2. “A Funny Kind of Englishman” – Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) ... 182

6.3. “Half Blacky-White” – Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (2000) ... 195

7. Conclusions ... 209


3 1. Introduction

What is alienation and how can one define it? There are numerous possible definitions of the term given by many thinkers over time, yet Jimmy Reid, the Clydeside trade union activist, managed perhaps to put it best during his inauguration speech as rector of Glas-gow University in 1972:

Alienation is the precise and correctly applied word for describing the major social problem in Britain today. People feel alienated by society. In some intellectual circles it is treated almost as a new phenomenon. It has, however, been with us for years. What I believe is true is that today it is more widespread, more pervasive than ever before. Let me right at the outset define what I mean by alienation. It is the cry of men who feel them-selves the victims of blind economic forces beyond their control. It's the frustration of ordinary people excluded from the processes of decision-making. The feeling of despair and hopelessness that pervades people who feel with justification that they have no real say in shaping or determining their own destinies. Many may not have rationalised it. May not even understand, may not be able to articulate it. But they feel it. It therefore conditions and colours their social attitudes. Alienation expresses itself in different ways in different people. It is to be found in what our courts often describe as the criminal antisocial behaviour of a section of the communi-ty. It is expressed by those young people who want to opt out of society, by drop-outs, the so-called maladjusted, those who seek to escape per-manently from the reality of society through intoxicants and narcotics. Of course, it would be wrong to say it was the sole reason for these things. But it is a much greater factor in all of them than is generally recognised. (The Independent, 2010).

The concept of alienation played a paramount role in the general political, social and philosophical discourse in the immediate aftermath of World War 2 in Western Europe, and the realm of fiction was no exception. Great Britain witnessed an unprecedented out-pouring of alienation-related phenomena in the emerging working-class fiction of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, most prominent of all being the authors of the so-called “Angry Decade”. Even though alienation continued to play an important role in working-class fiction, Marxism as a whole seemed to be on the wane during the following decades, the last important expression of working-class fiction being the works of Scottish authors such as James Kelman and Irvine Welsh during the first half of the 1990s. The official dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26th 1991 sent shockwaves through the entire world and was seen by many in Western Europe and the US as an irrefutable victory



not only over the Soviet Union, but also over Marxism (or Marxism-Leninism) as the official Soviet ideology as a whole. After the initial shock, the “end of history” was her-alded by Western theorists such as Francis Fukuyama, a view that became very popular during the day. As Terry Eagleton put it, the general misconception among theorists about the beginning of the 1990s seemed to have been the idea that world history would expe-rience an unparalleled process of ossification: “The future would simply be the present infinitely repeated – or, as the postmodernist remarked, ‘the present plus more options’” (Eagleton 2004: 7). Many cultural commentators did not consider at that time that it was not the end of human history unfolding, but a major socio-cultural disruption, which was set to redefine the realities of the new millennium and radically change and reshape the old antagonisms of the past.

In the world of fiction, things were no different. Marxism, which, as previously men-tioned, dominated the cultural discourse for the last four decades in which it experienced a slow but steady decline, was faced with its own demise after the emergence and growing popularity of postcolonialism, an academic discipline focused on the cultural legacy and implications of colonialism and imperialism. The “New Literature in English”, as it was called during the day, brought forward literary concepts which were different as well as English-speaking authors who were “exotic”, either second-generation Brits or coming from South-East Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and many other former British colonies. If one concentrates on quintessential concepts within both literary Marxism and postcolo-nialism, one can find striking similarities between the waning Marxist concept of aliena-tion (which played a paramount role in British working-class ficaliena-tion especially during the 1950s and 60s) and the concept of hybridity within postcolonial theory.

The hypothesis of my dissertation is that a shift has occurred in literary theory from the Marxist concept of class to postcolonial concept of race/identity during the end of the 1980s and the beginning of 1990s, a shift which has led to the reconceptualization of alienation under the guise of the postcolonial concept of hybridity. This hypothesis is at odds with standard accounts of most literary theorists. The common view held is that hybridity and alienation are completely unrelated to each other, both concepts belonging to two different literary currents, namely Marxism and postcolonialism. The generally



accepted view of contemporary literary theory is that hybridity succeeded and effectively displaced the previously significant Marxist concept of alienation, thus engendering the path within literary theory which eventually led to the disappearance of Marxism and the emergence of postcolonialism.

At first glance, the comparison between these two abovementioned concepts might seem paradoxical. However, writing as early as the 1970s about the renaissance of alienation theories in postwar Europe and the world (despite the fact that Marx’s ideas had been formulated centuries before the 1970s), Adam Schaff postulated a captivating assumption on why certain concepts become ‘fashionable’ and the underlying conditions:

In order to answer the question why the theory of alienation became ‘fash-ionable’ once more, why it proves useful in various fields of the social sciences, we must examine the foundation of the contemporary social transformations which condition this phenomenon. Otherwise it is difficult to explain a ‘wandering of ideas’ when certain concepts and theories forged in the past and considered outdated take on a new significance in a new social context. Ideas, in my opinion, become ‘fashionable’ when they offer a theoretical answer to some objective need; old and rejected ideas are taken up and reanimated when, properly adapted, they make possible a better understanding of contemporary life and a solution of its problems. Herein lies the secret of the renaissance of the theory of alienation” (Schaff 1980: 85).

Applying this idea to the postcolonial concept of hybridity and analyzing the transforma-tion of the seemingly dated concept of alienatransforma-tion, we should be able to establish not only what the core characteristics of these two concepts are, but also whether there are over-lapping characteristics or junctures between the two. The newly discovered insights could lead to a newer (and perhaps more precise) understanding of both of these important concepts within contemporary fiction and literary theory.

It remains to ascertain, then, if and in what way these two concepts are interrelated. Let us discuss the question of how concepts suffer certain alterations when they are ‘adapted’. Discussing the parallels between the concept of alienation and that of hybridity, we find that one common feature linking these two concepts is their versatility and long ‘travels’, not only within the same discipline, but also from one discipline or scientific field to another. For instance, the concept of alienation ‘travelled’ from religion to philosophy



(e.g. the Social Contract Theorists), within philosophy from Rousseau to Hegel and from Hegel’s Idealism to Marx’s sociopolitical beliefs, from which it later travelled to the realm of working-class fiction. Similarly, hybridity started out as a purely biological term meaning the cross-breeding of two plants or animals of different breeds, varieties or spe-cies; later on, it entered the racially charged colonial discourse of the ninetenth-century, only to entered the fields of linguistics and fiction during the early 20th-century (cf. Bal 2002: 25). In fiction, postcolonial theorists such as Homi Bhabha used the concept of hybridity as a quintessential characteristic of multicultural diversity. As a result, we can logically conclude that both concepts have significantly changed along the way, having travelled from one discipline to the other and having suffered several ‘mutations’ between historical periods. Thus, each concept has not only been ‘altered’ and ‘adapted’ by each discipline or field, but both of them have also proven to be versatile, flexible concepts that allow for more than one rigid definition confined to one scientific field.

Restricting the span of both concepts to fiction (especially working-class fiction and fic-tion of migrafic-tion) only, if one takes a closer look at the phenomena of alienafic-tion described in many of the working-class novels of the 1950s (including its Scottish offshoots as late as the 1990s) and novels of migration (which are mainly focusing on the concepts of hybridity, becoming en vogue during the end of the 1990s / beginning of the 2000s), one can recognize that the underlying phenomena manifest in both types of novels share re-markable similarities. Thus, in both genres, a feeling of social or psychological alienation, deep-seated disenchantment against an opposite ‘Other’, anger or frustration, feelings of unbelonging, powerlessness, a general sense of ennui, are dominant features. Further-more, the main character is usually portrayed not as an active subject in control of his/her actions and in tune with his/her environment, but as a passive subject that is trying to cope with various negative situations imposed on him/her from the outside by a social reality or environment he/she cannot control or escape from. In both genres, we can ascertain that these phenomena of alienation are rooted in a contested space, constantly negotiated between two diverging constituents. It is the “third space of the impossible (cf. Acheraiou 2011: 79) in which a dysfunctional, unbalanced relationship between diametrically op-posed constituents is constantly (re)negotiated that the main characters of both



class fiction and fictions of migration inhabit. With both concepts of alienation and hy-bridity being characterized by a flawed relationship between two opposing constituents, we may conclude that, somewhat paradoxically, the concept of hybridity could be per-ceived as the continuation of the concept of alienation under a new guise, due to the post-colonial turn which led to the waning of the concept of alienation in the eyes of the pre-sent-day literary canon.

However, my definition of alienation as a framework or model made up of two opposing binaries is not comprehensive enough without taking into account the possible constitu-ents of the frameworks models. Thus, we must establish what the precise constituconstitu-ents of each binary framework are. I define alienation in working-class fiction as a hostile, in-compatible, unbalanced relationship between the two constituents of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’, where ‘us’ is the world of the working-class hero, and the ‘them’ the middle- and upper-classes. We can easily detect that the common denominator connecting the two opposing constituents is that of class. This also explains the great attention these novels received in Great Britain during the time in which the Marxist concept of alienation was very pop-ular (i.e. the 1950s) not only with cultural theorists and literary critics but also with the general British readership of the time. Within the binary framework made up of the con-stituents of working-class and the upper-class, there are what I would call dominant and

subordinate elements, which are essential if we are to understand how the binaries

‘mu-tated’ during the last four decades and what role these specific elements played in the ‘mutations’ of the concept of alienation itself. In the case of the alienation binary frame-work of the 1950s, the dominant element between the opposing constituents of frame-working- and upper-class is that of class, while the geographic location (invariably the North of England) is to be seen as the subordinate element.

This model seems to ‘shift’ if we take a closer look at the newer Scottish version of king-class fiction of the 1990s, the last offshoots of the original (Northern) English wor-king-class of the 1950s. The alienation binary model of the 1990s is made up of different constituents, namely those of the Celtic North opposed to the Anglo-Saxon South, which are also characterized by a deeply flawed and hostile relationship between them. The novels of Scottish authors such as James Kelman and Irvine Welsh exhibit in my view a



strong Scottish (national) element as dominant element, thus, in the case of the so-called

Celtic Fringe (Haywood 1997: 151) novels, it is the (northern) location that plays the

dominant role, while the previously dominant aspect of class becomes subordinate. This, however, does not mean that class has been erased and plays no role whatsoever in these novels; instead, we may easily detect that the previously dominant element of class has become subordinated to Scottish identity and geographic location.

Interestingly, the same definition of alienation (i.e. a binary model made up of two op-posing constituents) can also be applied to the postcolonial concept of hybridity, suggest-ing that hybridity could be seen as a reconceptualization of the Marxist concept of alien-ation under a postcolonial guise might be a valid point. In the binary framework of hy-bridity, the opposing constituents ‘shift’ again, from the Celtic North vs. the Anglo-Saxon South to the flawed relationship between the (traditionally Christian) British centre (i.e. Great Britain itself) and the (Muslim) Black colonial periphery. In my view, hybridity in the early postcolonial novels is to be seen not as the primarily positive feature described by Homi Bhabha, but as an uncomfortable “third space of the impossible”, a space char-acterized by deep feelings of alienation and estrangement for the characters that inhabit it. Within this specific binary framework, we can easily identify the dominant aspect to be that of cultural/racial identity (i.e. British vs. British Indian/Pakistani/Jamaican, etc.), while the (previously) subordinate aspect of class seems to have completely disappeared it being replaced with the aspect of geographic location (Centre vs. Periphery). Even more interesting is the fact that the element of geographic location seems to connect the concept of hybridity with the concept of alienation in the working-class fiction of the 90s (i.e. the so-called Celtic Fringe), yet another aspect which connects not only the two con-cepts per se, but also the literary movements of Marxism and postcolonialism. The dif-ference between these two literary movements consist in the fact that geographic location in the working-class fiction of the 90s is limited to Great Britain, while in postcolonialism Great Britain itself becomes the opposed element in relation to its former imperial colo-nies. As far as hybridity is concerned, the focus has moved on the post-racial, multicultu-ral British society, globalization and on the idea of (postnational) identity during a time characterized by mass immigration from the former colonies of the British empire to the UK.



Taking into account the evolution of the previously discussed dominant and subordinate elements of both alienation and hybdridity, one can establish not only a certain continuity of alienation-related phenomena within the postcolonial concept of hybridity, but also a refashioning of the concept of alienation itself. After all, it seems that these two concepts have more in common than literary theory has been willing to acknowledge so far. The slow but steady decline of the concept of alienation and the sudden rise of the concept of hybridity during the beginning of the 1990s goes to show that, although the literary critics of today has virtually ceased to discuss alienation as a productive and relevant literary concept, the phenomena previously referred to in fiction, especially the working-class fiction of the 1950s and 1990s, still persist as subordinate elements in postcolonial fiction. Phenomena of alienation prevalent in British working-class fiction can be easily identi-fied in what Roy Sommer calls the “transcultural or hybrid novel1” (Sommer 2001: 162) and many other novels dealing with the topic of hybridity, an aspect which should rein-force my claim that there is a significant rift between an already occurred change in liter-ary theory and the endurance of underlying phenomena of a concept presumed dated and obsolete by the present-day literary criticism.

The second aim of my dissertation focuses on the question whether the shift from aliena-tion to hybridity is directly or indirectly linked with the shift which occurred in literary periodization from Marxism-based literary theory to postcolonial literary theory. In other words, can the concepts of alienation and hybridity shed any light on the interdependence between Marxism and postcolonialism as literary trends?

In order to answer this question, we must discuss Marxism and its demise from literary theory during the late 1980s in relation to the postcolonial surge during the early 1990s. Since the topic is an extremely vast one, I will only focus on the different strands of Marxism and their different approaches, with special emphasis on British Marxism. Here

1 In the original: “transkulturell-hybrider Roman”, a novel in which hybridity is based on Fludernik’s

definition as “internal difference based on a confluence of heterogenous cultures and traditions”. According to Roy Sommer, all techniques which contribute to the blurring of boundaries between ethnicities and cultures, the fragmentation of the fictional world, pluralized identity concepts and anti-essentialist visions of alterity are narratologically staged and engender the hybridization of the novel (Sommer 2001: 162).



we need to differentiate between the so-called “Western Marxism”2 and “Eastern Marx-ism”, also called “Marxism-Leninism” or “Stalinism”. Western Marxism is a vast and diverse body of Marxist theorists who were based in Western and Central Europe. In contrast to the Eastern strand of Marxism, the Western theorists3 are mainly focused on the Hegelian and humanist aspects on Karl Marx’s thought and opposed to the rigid Marx-ist ideology of Soviet-style Marxism-Leninism. Marxism-Leninism, on the other hand, is a political philosophy which also relies on Karl Marx’s views, but was fused together with the views of V. I. Lenin and later on, J. V. Stalin. The official state ideology of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies of the Warsaw Pact, Marxism-Leninism unambiguously supported the view of a “dictatorship of the proletariat”, i.e. the creation of a one party workers’ state, state dominance and intervention over the (planned) econ-omy and internationalism, i.e. opposition to colonialism, imperialism and capitalism. Within Western Marxism, I will focus mainly on the typically British manifestations linked to Marxism, namely the British Labour movement and the later formation of the so-called New Left. While the Labour movement is clearly the oldest established leftist party in Britain (1900 A.D.), we need to acknowledge its focus primarily on the working-classes and not on Marxism as a political philosophy. The Labour Party, a left-of-centre political party, was initially formed as a means for the British Trade Unions movements (i.e. Chartism, a working-class movement for political reform) to establish political rep-resentation at Westminster. Thus, it becomes clear that the focus of Labour has tradition-ally been the British working-class and its opposition not directly aimed at capitalism, but rather the British Conservative Party and its upper-class representatives. The New Left4, on the other hand, established in 1956 mainly by university students, commonly associ-ated with the student movement of 1968, thought of itself as different from both Com-munism and Labour: “the New Left saw itself as an alternative to the economism of the

2 The phrase was coined by Maurice Merleau-Ponty in 1953 (Merleau-Ponty 1973: 30-59).

3 Important early theorists of Western Marxism are György Lukács and Karl Korsch, followed by many

others later on, such as Louis Althusser, Walter Benjamin, theorists of the Frankfurt School such as Theodor Adorno, Erich Fromm, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse and many others. In Britain, the most important early Western Marxists are Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams, both leading theorists of the British New Left.

4 Stuart Hall describes The New Left as “a new kind of socialist entity: not a party but a ‘movement of ideas’



Communist and Labour Left and the revisionism of the Labour leadership (Dworkin 1997: 61).

Similarly, Stuart Hall claims the New Left came into existence after the Suez crisis and the Soviet invasion of Hungary, between “Western imperialism and Stalinism” (Hall 2010: 177). The New Left, “a heterogenous group of ex-communists, disaffected Labour supporters, and socialist students” (Dworkin 1997: 45), sought a ‘third way’ political space situated between these two poles and grew, according to Hall, out of two different British traditions: communist humanism and “an independent socialist tradition, whose centre of gravity lay in the left student generation of the 1950s and which maintained some distance from ‘party affiliations’” (Hall 2010: 178-179).

Returning to the question whether the shift from a declining Marxism to an emerging postcolonialism is in any way linked to the core concepts of alienation and hybridity, we must ask ourselves to what degree could a different interpretation of the same theory still hold, without discrediting the theory as a whole. This question is especially relevant when it comes to Western Marxism and its tenets once various thinkers tried to “reform” the Western strand of Marxism as a whole. As early as 1978, Louis Althusser perceived a serious crisis within Western Marxism:

for many of us, something has ‘snapped’ in the history of the labour movement between its past and present, something which makes its future unsure […] if it is no longer possible, as it used to be, to hold the past and present together, it is because there no longer exists in the minds of the masses any ‘achieved ideal’, any really living reference for socialism (Althusser 1978: 55, translation is mine).5

Would the Western strand of Marxism survive as a theory in a united, post-Communist Europe, or would it follow the fate of its Eastern incarnations? If we are to judge by the dwindling importance of Marxist concepts such as alienation and class today, it seems that the demise of the last bastion of communism, the Soviet Union, has had the effect of

5 Text in original: “für viele von uns ist etwas in der Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung, zwischen ihrer

Vergangenheit und ihrer Gegenwart ‚zerbrochen‘ […] Daß man die Vergangenheit und die Gegenwart nicht mehr zusammenbringen kann, ist darauf zurückzuführen, daß für die Massen kein ‚verwirklichtes Ideal‘, kein wirklich lebendiger Bezug zum Sozialismus mehr besteht“ (Althusser 1978: 55).



also discrediting Western Marxism as a “mainstream” theory twenty years after Althusser had first announced its crisis. According to Keith Laybourn, the decline of Marxism as a whole in Britain was inevitable: “Marxism in Britain has declined rapidly since the Sec-ond World War. Indeed, the membership of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), the largest Marxist organisation in Britain, fell from a wartime peak of 56,000 in 1942 to 45,000 in 1945, and further, to a mere 4,750 by the time of its dissolution in November 1991” (Laybourn 2006: 1).

Asking himself how much one can loosen the theoretical core of Marxism without its entire theoretical framework falling apart, Eagleton is of the opinion that the breaking point of the theoretical framework of Marxism has been reached with Althusser’s sug-gested reforms and that this discredited Western Marxism as a whole. Eagleton thinks that the disdain of Western Marxism for “culture” during the 1960s and 70s, its dogma-tism and the estrangement from “classical” Marxism of Marxist theorists during this de-cade led to the general decline of Marxism as a philosophy:

Julia Kristeva and the TelQuel group turned to religious mysticism and a celebration of the American way of life. Post-structuralist pluralism now seemed best exemplified not by the Chinese cultural revolution but by the North-American supermarket. Roland Barthes shifted from politics to pleasure. Jean-François Lyotard turned his attention to intergalactic travel and supported the right-wing Giscard in the French presidential elections. Michel Foucault renounced all aspirations to a new social order. If Louis Althusser rewrote Marxism from the inside, he opened a door in doing so through which many of his disciples would shuffle out of it altogether. So the crisis of Marxism did not begin with the crumbling of the Berlin wall. It could be felt at the very heart of political radicalism of the late 60s and early ‘70s […] It was not a question of the left first flourishing and then declining. As far as classical Marxism went, the worm was already in the bud, the serpent curled secretly in the garden” (Eagleton 2004: 38)

Fredric Jameson, on the other hand, goes further and claims that Marxism, whether in-ternally doomed from the very beginning or brought to its knees by the demise of the so-called “existing socialism”, cannot fully break with the future in a clear-cut manner. De-spite the appearance of any radical change between old and new, be it time periods, lit-erary trends or political change, there are always elements of the old within the new, and at the same time, features of the new which have been also preserved within the old:



One kind of answer […] would raise the whole issue of periodization and of how a historian (literary or other) posits a radical break between two henceforth distinct periods. I must limit myself to the suggestion that radical breaks between periods do not generally involve complete changes of content but rather the restructuration of a certain number of elements already given: features that in an earlier period or system were subordinate now become dominant, and features that had been dominant again become secondary (Jameson 2008: 552).

This in turn leads us to the third aim of my dissertation, namely to try to ascertain whether there is something like a ‘trend’ or ‘motor’ in literary theory when it comes to the peri-odization of various literary currents, and if yes, how does the inner self-fashioning mechanism of literary trends work?

In order to answer this question, we need to consider not only Jameson’s, but also Ray-mond William’s theory of dominant, residual and emergent elements, which mutually support and complete each other. Williams claims in his book “Marxism and Literature” (1977) that cultural theory is characterized by a continuous negotiation between three different elements: the dominant, the residual6 and the emergent. Williams maintains the view that ‘residual’ elements play a very important role in literary production. Based on the Gramscian interplay between dominance and subordination, Williams, like Jameson, supports the impossibility of a clear-cut radical break between literary currents:

A residual cultural element is usually at some distance from the effective dominant culture, but some part of it, some version of it will in most cases have had to be incorporated if the dominant culture is to make sense in these areas […] It is in the incorporation of the actively residual – by reinterpretation, dilution, projection, discriminating inclusion and exclusion – that the work of the selective tradition is especially evident. This is very notable in the case of versions of the ‘literary tradition’ passing through selective versions of the character of literature to connecting and incorporated definitions of what literature is now and should be (Williams 1977: 123).

6 Williams makes a clear distinction between what he calls ‘archaic’ and ‘residual’: “I would call the

‘archaic’ that which is wholly recognized as an element of the past, to be observed, to be examined, or even on occasion to be consciously ‘revived’ […] What I mean by ‘residual’ is very different. The residual, by definition, has been effectively formed in the past, but is still active in the cultural process, not only and not often at all as an element of the past, but as an effective element of the present” (Williams 1977: 122). William’s residual element comes closest to Jameson’s view of the subordinate.



Terry Eagleton also supports the views of his Marxist colleagues mentioned above, claim-ing that “just as for Marxist economic theory each economic formation tends to contain traces of older, superseded modes of production, so traces of older literary forms survive within new ones” (Eagleton 1976: 26). Applying this view to Marxist working-class fic-tion and postcolonial ficfic-tions of migrafic-tion, which are, not incidentally, two consecutive literary trends, and thus chronologically linked to each other (put simply, the proposition is that postcolonialism replaced Marxism), two further questions arise: firstly, what are the subordinate Marxist-influenced elements which have become dominant within post-colonialism and secondly, were these subordinate or residual elements in postcolonial thought dominant within Marxist literary theory? What is more, what is the inner self-fashioning mechanism of literary trends and according to which principles does it work? The German thinker Ulrich Schulz-Buschhaus perceives the occurring shifts in literary criticism as a matter of fashion or trend of specific literary epochs. He discusses the dif-ference between innovation (which are renewals of the present dominant theory generally perceived as productive) and fashion (which are also renewal attempts but perceived as being less productive). Schulz-Buschhaus finds it likely that the epoch thresholds between literary trends are linked to certain trends (or fashions) within literary criticism itself: “usually, certain questions are seen as prestigious, as long as they […] promise innova-tions. And their reputation is dwindling when they exhausted themselves after intense exploration, so that the increasingly bored public will perceive as fashionable that which it previously had welcomed as innovation” (Schulz-Buschhaus 1994: 447, translation is mine).7 Turning back to the initial question of what makes an older idea relevant again, could it be that after span of more than four decades, literary criticism simply got bored of Marxist theory and reoriented itself toward postcolonialism? Could the shift from class to identity represent the transition from an exhausted fashion to innovation, and could this shift be completely detached from the sociopolitical realities of the 1990s?

7 In the original: “Normalerweise genießen gewisse Fragen Prestige, solange sie […] Innovationen

ver-heißen. Und es geht mit ihrer Reputation zu Ende, wenn sie sich nach intensiver Thematisierung erschöpft haben, so daß dem allmählich gelangweilten Publikum als Mode erscheint, was es vormals als Innovation begrüßte” (Schulz-Buschhaus 1994: 447).



In my opinion, the answer to this question cannot be simply a matter of fashion without a certain underlying direction-giving phenomenon. Even though Schulz-Buschhaus is right to attribute a certain influence to specific fashions or trends within literary criticism, a trend or fashion alone cannot fully explain the interplay between two literary move-ments. The underlying phenomenon which is of interest in this case is in my opinion the sociopolitical upheavals experienced during the 90s in Europe. Essential in this case is the concept of class and its repercussion on the emerging literary movement called post-colonialism.

Class, as previously mentioned, has largely been replaced today with aspects of identity, based on the trinity of race, gender and culture. Identity is nowadays an intensely dis-cussed topic by many Western cultural theorists, the majority of which subscribe to the view that virtually all Western European countries have become multicultural and ethni-cally diverse societies. The 'established’ European left, starting from the New Labour Party in Great Britain and spanning to Germany’s Sozialdemokratische Partei

Deutsch-lands (SPD), France’s Parti Socialiste, seconded by the European Greens, cemented the

view of “respecting”, “encouraging” and “celebrating” the ethnic, religious and political hybridity of multicultural society, becoming in effect what Paul E. Gottfried termed “the postcommunist left” (Gottfried 2002: 29). Except for a few Marxist theorists (e.g. Eagleton or Žižek), very few contemporary theorists are still concerned with class today (see Chapter 3.4). On the other hand, many postcolonial theorists, such as Gayatri C. Spivak, claimed recently that they no longer have a postcolonial perspective at all, stating that postcolonialism is “the day before yesterday” (in Loomba 2013: 250). Thus, it would seem, we are presently on the threshold of postcolonialism itself becoming obsolete and irrelevant.

Even so, the postcolonial concept of hybridity seems to have been used incongruously during the heyday of literary postcolonial thought. If we understand economic exploita-tion as an issue of class conflict, it then becomes apparent that the previously dominant, later subordinate, aspect of class has been effectively removed from the equation and replaced with the constituent of identity. Although postcolonial thinkers declared to be interested in triad of race, gender and class, one cannot overlook the fact that when we



say ‘hybridity’ or ‘diversity’ today, we do not mean that the society in question is made up of rich or poor people, working-class individuals and bosses, but we perceive first and foremost a racially diverse and culturally heterogenous society. It is again Eagleton who boldly claims in his article “Goodbye to Enlightenment”, that in postcolonial thought, “one is allowed to talk about cultural differences, but not – or not much – about economic exploitation” (Eagleton, The Guardian, 1994).Yet, within the postcolonial triad of race, gender and class, class seems to have been largely ignored to the detriment of race. It was American scholar Walter Benn Michaels, who, in his provocative book “The

Trou-ble with Diversity” (2006), drew the attention to the remarkaTrou-ble point that, despite the

fact that the concept of race has been dismissed by most scientists (e.g. genetics invali-dates the idea different races between humans) in our day and age, we nevertheless rely more now than ever on the very concept of race to celebrate diversity and embrace hy-bridity as a way to overcome racism. The three main claims of Michaels’ book are as follows: firstly, that the current take on cultural diversity, initially declared to be the re-jection of racism and biological essentialism, actually “grew out of and perpetuates the very concepts it congratulates itself on having escaped” (Michaels 2006: 7). Secondly, that the endurance of the concept of race in present-day U.S. is bolstered by the diversity campaign itself, and thirdly, that “shifting our focus from cultural diversity to economic equality” would massively alter the terrain of American intellectual life (ibid.).

Michael’s highly stimulating argument is that the current concept of ‘diversity’ should not revolve around the idea of (racial) identity, but that of (class) equality. In itself, this would mean a reorientation of the left from race back to class, and thus, a reversal on a theoretical level to the old Marxist alienation theories so popular in the 1950s. Michaels claims that race has begun to be treated as culture, not biology. He thus correctly remarks that to a certain extent, “culture8 is now being used as a virtual synonym for racial identity […] and to some extent it’s also being used as a replacement for racial identity” (ibid.:

8 Michaels terms this “anthropological notion of culture”, which was invented precisely to signal that what

is meant are not the biological differences between humans, but that those differences were “cultural instead of biological. So when we talk about black or white or Jewish or Native American culture, we’re talking about differences in what people do and believe, not about differences in blood” (Michaels 2006: 40-41, emphasis in the original).



40, emphasis in the original). His credo can be summed up in the sentence “white is not better than black, but rich is definitely better than poor” (ibid.: 10). In other words, the USA is not better off if the upper-classes of American society now emphasize their diversity by also having rich African Americans, Asian Americans or Latino families, while it actually does nothing but solidifying the ever-growing social inequality between the upper and the working-class, whether they are black, white, or Latinos. The same applies not only to the U.S., but also Western Europe and all countries which have a similar economic system everywhere on the planet.

Michaels’ courageous thesis not only challenges the current take on identity but also re-verts to the old(er) concept of class when analyzing one of the core feature of postcolo-nialism:

We love race – we love identity – because we don’t love class. We love

thinking that the differences that divide us are not the differences between those of us who have money and those who don’t but are instead the differences between those of us who are black and those who are white or Latino or whatever. A world where some of us don’t have enough money is a world where the differences between us present a problem: the need to get rid of inequality or to justify it. A world where some of us are black and some of us are white – or biracial or Native American or transgendered – is a world where the differences between us present a solution: appreci-ating our diversity (Michaels 2006: 6-7, emphasis is mine).

Given the present-day state of affairs, the following question then arises: is the disappear-ance of the concept of class from the current theoretical discourse, especially on the left political spectrum, connected with the advent of the postcolonial concepts of race/identity at all? There are strong correlations to support this view, according to thinkers such as Paul E. Gottfried, who links the waning of the concept of class to the dwindling syndical-ism in the U.S. and Western Europe. He also writes that “syndicalist politics” of the wor-king-class “stood for certain unshakably anchored positions: drastic income redistribu-tion, the nationalization of heavy industries and more and bigger social programs aimed at the working class” (Gottfried 2002: 29). Likewise, the traditional working-class did not promote “open borders, free trade, sexual self-expresiveness, and the submergence of the dominant Western culture into the flux of incoming ethnic minorities” (ibid.: 30). Instead, the working-class socialists “generally opposed immigration, favored protectionism, and



had no special affinity for multicultural politics” (ibid.). Gottfried thus claims that the present-day leftist obsession with identity is due to the fact that the socialist working-class, symbolized by the syndicalist movement, was replaced with mainly activist intel-lectuals whose main focus is identity and the multicultural society.

In addition, if race has indeed replaced class, does this replacement have anything to do with the disappearance of working-class fiction (and linked with it, Marxist literary theory as a whole) and the surge of postcolonialism as the main focus of cultural theorists during the 1990s and 2000s? According to Michael’s views, the answer is yes: the disappearance of class is due to the change which occurred during the 1990s and which shifted the focus from class to the postcolonial focus on race. The current fascination with race and iden-tity9 has become the preferred topic of cultural theorists to address the wrongs of the multi- and postracial society, while they are ignoring the fact that essentially the main issue remains even in our present day that of class and not identity:

The least important thing about us – our identity – is the thing we have become most committed to talking about, and this commitment is, espe-cially from the standpoint of left politics, a profound mistake. What it means is that the political left – increasingly committed to the celebration of diversity and the redress of historical grievance – has converted itself into the accomplice rather than the opponent of the right […] The left today obsessively interests itself in issues that have nothing to do with economic inequality (Michaels 2006: 19).

In the following chapters, my dissertation tries to offer possible explanations for the changes not only within working-class fiction, but also attempts to ascertain which are the underlying cultural phenomena for the theoretical shifts that have occurred in the last two decades and their implications for the rise and demise of contemporary literary move-ments. The paper consists of a total of 7 chapters. Chapters 2 and 3 make up the theoretical framework of the dissertation; chapter 2 deals essentially with the etymological implica-tions of the term alienation and an overview of alienation theories in philosophy, while

9 Not coincidentally, the year 2015 has been named by The New York Times “the year in which we obsessed

over identity”. Wesley Morris’ article bearing the same title is indicative of the privileged position identity still occupies cultural discourses of the present day.



chapter 3 offers an outline of alienation in fiction, relying especially on literary diction-aries and handbooks, with a special focus on British working-class fiction from the 50s to the 90s. The last part of chapter 3 (subchapter 3.4.2) focuses on the relationship be-tween the concepts of alienation and hybridity. The following chapters 4, 5 and 6 are case study analyses, in which chapter 4 focuses on the Angry Young Men Movement during 1950s Britain, chapter 5 looks at the Celtic Fringe of the 1990s, while chapter 6 tries to establish phenomena of alienation in archetypal postcolonial novels and fictions of mi-gration. The last chapter, number 7, enumerates the conclusions of the present study.


20 2. Alienation: Definition, Concept and Meanings

Various attempts have been made throughout history by philosophers, theologians, soci-ologists, psychsoci-ologists, anthropologists and last but not least, literary critics, to define the phenomena commonly described as alienation. However, reaching a general consensus has proven to be a Sisyphean endeavour, since this concept is extremely difficult to define in such a manner that one single definition can be accepted by so many scholars, thinkers and adherents to so numerous different disciplines, scientific fields and schools of thought.

Although this research focuses essentially on the concepts of alienation in post-World War 2 British literature, evading the term’s history is not possible, if we are to understand its various meanings, shades and nuances as well as its trans-disciplinary potential. The purpose of the present chapter is threefold: firstly, to offer the reader a diachronic over-view of the multiple approaches to alienation, the research conducted to the present day and the conclusions drawn by important thinkers without whom an exhaustive compre-hension of this phenomenon seems impossible. Secondly, to establish a newer definition of alienation which could function as an effective concept in literary analyses. Finally, yet most importantly, the transformations the concept of alienation has undergone throughout time will be highlighted and discussed.

2.1. Etymological Background and Semantics

Given its various translations in both English and German, one needs to approach the differences and similarities of the existing terms based on the etymology of the term al-ienation. In the following subchapter, the term’s etymology and linguistic development will be discussed, from its Greek and Latin origins to the German “Entfremdung” and its English translation, namely “alienation”.



The earliest occurrences of the term ‘alienation’ are to be found in Greek (απ)αλλοτιοΰυ fromάλλότριος(in English “foreign”) in Aristotle’s Ars Rhetorica and in the Latin term of (ab)alienatio (Alt 1982: 11). The earliest original meaning of alienation can be traced back to the 5th-century B.C. in Greek and 3rd-century B.C. in Latin. The term (ab)alienatio has permeated through classic Latin virtually all Romance languages (Italian, French, Spanish) and English, while in German it has been taken over ad litteram as a neologism. In the German-speaking areas of ancient Europe, the term Entfremdung develops as early as Old High German as an equivalent for alienatio and is kept in Middle High German (enfremeden) and Early New High German with the same meanings as its Latin counter-part (ibid.: 13).

Starting chronologically, one can identify three main meanings of “alienation” in Latin. Firstly, as a legal term, usually denoting the transfer of ownership, e.g. “to make some-thing another’s, to take away, to remove” (Murray 1978: 219), stemming from the Latin

alienatio, alienare. Secondly, there is the additional meaning as a mental disorder (Latin: alienatio mentis, synonymous with dementia, insania), which denotes insanity, while the

last and third possible meaning is that of interpersonal estrangement, it being synonymous with disiunctio, aversatio, i.e. “to cause a warm relationship with another to cool; to cause a separation to occur, to make oneself disliked” (ibid.).

The Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob Grimm und Wilhelm Grimm similarly mentions

Entfremdung (as a translation from the Latin abalienare, MhG enfremeden) as a legal

term, and interestingly enough, it also bears the connotation of theft, e.g. “to make strange, to rob, to take, to get rid of something” (Grimm 1999: 490-523, translation is mine)10. According to Walter Kaufmann and Richard Schacht, the German term

“Ent-fremdung” disappears altogether from German dictionaries by the end of the

nineteenth-century, only to reappear in very recent ones, presently referring to the third meaning of alienation mentioned above, i.e. that of interpersonal estrangement (cf. Schacht 1970: 5).



Ernst Alt underlines that the philosophical term of alienation can be traced prior to He-gel’s use of the term, namely in the writing of the Social Contract11 thinkers, H. Grotius, T. Hobbes and J. J. Rousseau (cf. Alt 1980: 20-21). Schacht finds similar evidence even in the case of other Social Contract thinkers, such as for instance John Locke and the subsequent assimilation of the term by Hegel (cf. Schacht 1970: 13).

As far as its first meaning is concerned (i.e. the legal transfer of ownership), another term was more customary: “Entäußerung and entäußern. […] can be traced to the 17th century” (Alt 1980: 17, translation is mine). Thus, the terms Entäußerung and entäußern are pri-marily present in the works of Social Contract Theorists, such as Thomas Hobbes, who uses “not the English alienation or to alienate, but expressions such as to divest oneself or to renounce, that is, a terminology similar to the German entäußern and Entäußerung12 (ibid.: 20, translation is mine). Alt agrees with Walter Kaufmann that “just as Rousseau uses the terms renonciation and aliénation as equivalents, so does Hegel use in his

‘Phe-nomenology’ Entäußerung and Entfremdung as equivalent terms (ibid.: 21, emphasis and

translation is mine).13 Thus, both German notions of Entäußerung / entäußern and

Ent-fremdung / entfremden have been generally understood and translated into English (for

Hegel as well as Marx) as alienation, and to alienate, respectively.

With regard to the third and more recent meaning of alienation as interpersonal es-trangement, it is perhaps worth discerning that the original term has undergone a serious and significant semantic mutation: the primarily legal meaning of the term and its subse-quent, medical meaning disappeared from linguistic usage in the 18th and 19th-centuries, respectively. Thus, instead of being defined primarily as a legal term, the meaning of the

11 The common point of view of the Social Contract Theorists that originated in European Enlightenment

is the problem of sovereign authority of the state versus the individual and the relinquishment or transfer of some of man’s individual rights to the “community”, thus ensuring a better functioning of society as a whole. Grotius and Locke are ardent supporters of such an undertaking, while Hobbes and most importantly, Rousseau, take a more discriminating position.

12 In the original: “In seinem für die Entwicklung der Theorie des Gesellschaftsvertrags bedeutendsten

Werkm dem „Leviathan“ (1651), benutzt Hobbes allerdings nicht das englische alienation bzw. to alienate, sondern die Ausdrücke to divest oneself bzw. to renounce, also eine dem deutschen entäußern und Entäußerung ähnliche Terminologie“ (Alt 1982: 20).

13 In the original: “Wie Rousseau die Ausdrücke renonciation and aliénation äquivalent gebraucht, so

gebraucht auch Hegel in seiner ‘Phänomenologie‘ Entäußerung und Entfremdung als äquivalente Termini“ (Alt 1982: 21).



term is placed on an interpersonal level, its more modern focus now being the relationship or bonds between two or more human beings. In other words, “there is little connection between the traditional uses [of alienation] and its more recent special uses” (Kaufmann 1970: LXI).

The philosophical disputes regarding the concept of alienation play a paramount role in understanding the development of the theory of alienation. The term Entfremdung first appears as a concept in philosophy at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th-century, e.g. in the works of Wilhelm von Humboldt and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, which leads us from the semantics to the philosophical characteristics of alienation. Numerous important philosophers have already discussed the concept, therefore, it is sufficient to focus on a few aspects that are particularly relevant for the general argument of my paper. The philosophers who are especially relevant when it comes to the topic of alienation are Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx and Erich Fromm, an important philosophical “trinity” whose works are based upon or revolve around the concept of alienation.


24 2.2. Philosophical Approaches

Before discussing the literary representations of alienation, we must gain a brief overview regarding this concept in philosophy. According to Ernst Alt, the term Entfremdung has been introduced to modern philosophy by Hegel in his seminal work Phänomenologie

des Geistes, first published in 1807 (cf. Alt 1982: 19). Although Hegel seems to have

adopted the term from the Social Contract Theorists (cf. Schacht 1970: 13) and in spite of Hegel’s ample use of the term, the notion of Entfremdung/Entäußerung has been mostly ignored by scholars worldwide, until Marx started using it again in his work

“Öko-nomisch-philosophische Manuskripte” (1844) and “Das Kommunistische Manifest”

(1848). The terms of Entfremdung and Entäußerung appear to have gained entrance into philosophical dictionaries only during the 1960s (cf. Kaufmann 1970: XVI).

The following subchapters will give a succinct overview of alienation-based theories within the field of philosophy, focusing on the views of Rousseau, Hegel, Marx and Fromm. This will provide a general idea of the ‘mutations’ the concept of alienation has suffered in philosophical debates over the last century, delineating each thinker’s per-spective and definition of alienation.

2.2.1. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: A Philosophical Precursor of Alienation Theories

Jean Jacques Rousseau is a francophone thinker who was born in Geneva in the year 1712 and who became a main representative of the so-called Social Contract Theorists. Although J. J. Rousseau did not explicitly formulate a sociological or philosophical theory of alienation, one cannot ignore his preoccupation with the description of man afflicted by various phenomena of alienation within human society. Rousseau’s theory of the Social Contract secularizes and humanizes the religious notion of man’s separation from God. Rousseau was the first major philosopher to “transliterate the explanation of Man’s



loneliness and despair to his relationship with Nature, rather than with God” (Johnson 1973: 13). His conception shifted from a religious alienation between man and God towards a separation of man from his innate goodness through living in a denaturalizing social milieu.

The phenomenon of alienation in Rousseau is mainly based on a primary antinomy between nature and society, which is the result of developments within the progress of history, i.e. natural catastrophes and exceptional natural occurrences. Originally, Rousseau states, man was living in harmony with himself, his fellow human beings and with nature. Natural Man, was living in harmony precisely because of his freedom. Nat-ural Man, or “l’homme sauvage” (Rousseau 1964: 135), lives in a perfect state of nature, which is defined by Rousseau in complete antithesis to the civil state and Social Man, “l’homme civilisé” (ibid.).

For Rousseau, the essential nature and self of man lies with Natural Man, who is charac-terized, as Rousseau writes in his “Discours sur l’origine et les fondemens de l’inégalité

parmi les hommes” (1754), by isolation and general unrelatedness; he lives solitary, is

unsocial, lacks the ability of speech. Natural Man has no abstract rationality, no memory and no ability to plan or forecast: “His imagination paints no pictures; his heart asks for nothing […] His projects […] last only till the end of the day”14 (Rousseau 1964: 144, translation is mine). Natural man lives only in the present and for his immediate needs. There is also no urge for him to socialise, no tendency to mingle or communicate with other humans. Natural Man comes into contact with other humans rather accidentally, as a result of natural disasters or in order to procreate. He is endowed, however, with two main basic needs: “self-love” (“amour de soi-même”) (Rousseau 1964: 156) which serves as a way to ensure the physical self-preservation of man and “natural compassion” (“pitié

naturel”) (ibid.: 155) which serves the preservation of and reproduction of the species.

This state of the Natural Man presupposes that there is no further need for him to try and evolve into a higher stage: he does not have tools, he generally does not work and the amount which he is forced to work in order to survive does not coerce him into

14 In the original: “Son imagination ne lui peint rien; son coeur ne lui demande rien […] ses projets bornés



socialization: “thus he needs not transform nature to satisfy his needs which would ne-cessitate labour, the production of tools and cooperation with others. […] Natural Man is materially self-sufficient and autarkic“15 (Alt 1982: 87, translation is mine).

In this natural state, man is self-sufficient and avoids the company of fellow humans. Thus, there is nothing that could motivate him to hurt, suppress or exploit his fellow hu-man beings. His natural state is in fact a state of freedom – Natural Man lives in a world which lacks personal or political power relationships between humans and since his needs never cross the level of physicality, he is also psychologically free: he lives for himself alone and is independent of other people’s expectations. According to Forschner, this lack of dependence, this sovereignty is the state of freedom which natural man enjoys, the very aspect which separates man from animals (cf. Forschner 1977: 30). In this respect, Rousseau breaks with the entire philosophical tradition which states that man is a rational animal; instead, he claims that freedom (in the sense of lack of dependence, “égalité

naturelle”) is what sets man apart from all other animals, as it is the one feature which

animals lack. Natural Man lives in perfect harmony with nature, i.e. his surrounding environment and his own nature, his true self. There is no separation between that what he is and that what he feels or wishes he could be, no unbelonging and no feeling of homelessness.

Yet if freedom is the natural state of man, why does Rousseau state in his “Contrat Social

ou principes du droit politique” (1762) that “man is born free everywhere, yet everywhere

man is in chains“16 (Rousseau 1964: 351, translation is mine)? The answer lies with the process of socialization of man, which Rousseau perceives to be contingent and external, the result of Natural Man’s interaction with other humans. Thus, as a tangent of man’s socialization, the new attributes which arise are the development of language, rationality, civilization, culture, law, customs and the state. Here we are confronted with the idea of the contingency of human development, which will be later picked up by Existentialism, and most importantly, the idea of externality: not only is human development contingent,

15 In the original:“So braucht er zur Befriedigung seiner Bedürfnisse die Natur nicht zu transformieren […]

was Arbeit, Herstellung von Werkzeugen und Kooperation mit anderen erfordern würde. Der Naturmensch ist somit in materieller Hinsicht selbstgenügsam und autark“ (Alt 1982: 87).



but it acts upon man as an exterior force, it forces man to undergo changes which, in effect, lead him away and alienate him from his ‘true’ self-sufficient nature. This loss of self-sufficiency means in effect that Natural Man is forced to combine his efforts with his fellow humans, develop utensils and tools, engage in systematic work, so that man can survive in his changed environment. This, in turn, badly affects his autarchy, which means that his previous isolated life is no longer possible. Natural Man is thus forced to become a member of human society, with a system of organized labour.

This is the stage where man witnesses the appearance of new, non-physical needs of an affective nature, which are in turn the result of the process of socialization. Rousseau identifies three main stages of historical development of man: the natural stage, the col-lective stage and the societal stage, which correspond, according to Fetscher, to three historical types of humans: the gatherer, the herder and the peasant (cf. Fetscher 1968: 18). The collective stage is, according to Rousseau, characterized by the emergence of long-term relationships between humans, who are semi-nomadic, small families practis-ing huntpractis-ing and cattle-rearpractis-ing, keeppractis-ing their autarchy. This is a stage in which man still retains his wholeness: this stage knows no division of labour, no private property and generally functions as a state of equilibrium between nature and society: it is “the happiest and most sustainable epoch”17 (Rousseau 1964: 171, translation is mine).

However, humans also commence to compare themselves to other humans, and so a new need arises: to be respected by other members of the group, which for Rousseau signifies the end of the aforementioned happy epoch: “Whoever sang or danced best, whoever was the handsomest, the strongest, the most dexterous, or the most eloquent, came to be of most consideration: and this was the first step towards inequality”18 (Rousseau 1964: 169, translation is mine). Thus, Natural Man has lost not only his autarky, but also his mental

17 In the original: “Ainsi quoique les hommes fussent devenus moins endurans, et que la pitié naturelle eût

déjà souffert quelque alteration, ce période de developpement des facultés humaines, tenant une juste milieu entre l’indolence de l’état primitif et la pétulante activité de nôtre amour proper, dut être l´époque la plus hereuse, et la plus durable” (Rousseau 1964: 171).

18 In the original: “Celui qui chantoit ou dansoit le mieux; le plus beau, le plus fort, le plus adroit ou le plus



self-sufficiency, since he now seeks appreciation (“consideration”) through his fellow humans.

The equilibrium is eventually shattered upon entering the next phase, the societal stage, with its introduction of farming. In this stage, people start depending on each other and lose their autarchy completely; rivalry and competition ensues between humans and the formation of Master-Slave relationships; new needs emerge, such as not only keeping one’s possessions, but also coveting or stealing those of others; the concept of private property is born and it is used by other men as an instrument of oppression. Man engen-ders social differences based on the accumulation of wealth. Mentally, the morphing of man’s “amour de soi-même“ into selfishness also occurs at this stage, while the feeling of compassion is slowly disappearing. The process of socialization is seen by Rousseau as an utterly degenerative process: the original kindness in the nature of man has been transformed into something evil. The process of socialization is thus, at least indirectly, a process of alienation from the “true nature” of humans.

Thus, man is alienated not only by physical separation from his natural environment (i.e. nature), but also psychologically: there arise several newly formed needs as opposed to the strictly physical needs of Natural Man. These psychological needs make man more dependent on other humans than on material needs, thus man becomes doubly dependent: he/she suffers from a mental and material dependency. The latter is characterized by man’s desire to gain respect from his peers and social standing: “each one began to consider the rest, and to wish to be considered in turn; and thus a value came to be attached to public esteem” (ibid., translation is mine)19. By engaging in this process, man loses his natural sense of self, which is replaced with the need to be approved of by other members of society. The need for appreciation is exterior and thus, man becomes dependent on the approval of his fellow man.

As in the case of the material level, man is also estranged affectively, since affect behaves in society according to the material rules of societal barter: Humans only receive approval

19 In the original: “Chacun commença à regarder les autres et à vouloir être regardé soi-même, et l’estime



if they correspond to society’s expectations, demands and imposed norms of society. If individuals obey the societal pressure, they will find others who will approve of their actions. If man does not submit to the rules of society, fellow humans will disapprove of him and ostracize him, thus alienating him from society.

Rousseau thinks that the alienation of man began with his transgression from the state of nature to the state of organized society. The process of socialization inevitably led to the material and psychological alienation of man from his fellow men and his true self-suffi-cient self, since man was burdened with artificial needs to gain societal standing from his peers by conforming to the rules of society. From an absolute existence, man has moved to leading a relative existence. Man has lost his identity with nature and cannot identify with society; he is thus negating his true nature and his self within society. Alienation for Rousseau in social man is pervasive, it engulfs the poor and the rich, the master and the slave; alienation is what characterizes the individual within society on the one hand, and society as a whole, on the other.

Rousseau’s perception of alienation can be seen as the basis for his theory of mankind’s development through history. His thoughts on phenomena of alienation make him a precursor of alienation theories, which were later developed by other important philoso-phers who came under Rousseau’s influence. Although not a fully developed concept in Rousseau, alienation plays a crucial role in his writings and his entire philosophy. The ensuing revival of the alienation theories within the philosophical discourse occurs due to G. W. F. Hegel’s writings, which will in turn, influence many 19th and 20th-century thinkers, such as Karl Marx and Erich Fromm.

2.2.2. Hegel’s Concept of Alienation

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a prominent philosopher and representative of Ger-man Idealism, born in Stuttgart in 1770. Alienation is discussed by Hegel in his works, where he describes it (using both Entäußerung or Entfremdung as terms for alienation) as



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